Scaling properties of Canadian flood flows

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Abstract

This study investigated the spatial scaling properties of Canadian flood flows, namely, annual maximum mean 1-, 5- and 7-day flows using both the product moments (PMs) and probability weighted moments (PWMs). Both approaches demonstrate that flood flows in climatic regions 1 (Pacific), 2 (South British Columbia mountains), 3 (Yukon and northern British Columbia), 6 (Northeastern forest), 7 (Great Lakes and St. Lawrence rivers), 8 (Atlantic), and 10 (Arctic tundra) exhibit simple scaling with scaling exponent θ/H close to 0·90, while flood flows in regions 4 (Prairie provinces), 5 (Northwestern forest), and 9 (Mackenzie) does not with scaling exponent θ/H close to 0·50. The plots of coefficient of variations of flood flows versus drainage area indicate that Cv remains almost constant in regions 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 10, while it decreases as drainage area increases in regions 4, 5, and 9. These results demonstrate that the index flood method is applicable in climatic regions 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 10, while it is not in climatic regions 4, 5, and 9. The physical backgroud of the simple scaling of flood flows in most Canadian climatic regions is that snowmelt or rain-on-snow runoff is a dominant flood-generating mechanism across the country. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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